Rev. Al Sharpton's Weekly Blog

It’s Time for Donald Trump to Put Up or Shut Up

Apr 28, 2011

When people continuously attempt to slander and vilify you because they lack any ability to form a true argument, there are a few ways in which you can respond. One of those methods is ignoring the baseless pestering because you and everyone with any logical sense knows that it is pointless and beneath you. But if the unnecessary noise begins to distract from the real issues at hand, you can -- as President Obama so effectively did yesterday morning -- silence the 'debate' by presenting one simple piece of irrefutable evidence. So in light of the president's release of his long form birth certificate and his efforts to bring focus back to more pertinent things, it's time for Donald Trump to put up or just shut up.

In 2004, I ran for the presidency of the United States. As an activist for social change and progress, I wholeheartedly disagreed with a host of George Bush policies. But instead of calling the sitting president derogatory names, I chose instead to deal with the true challenges of the day. Pushing for education and health care reform as a universal right, I carefully outlined my vision for the future. Debating ideas like ethanol versus petroleum gas in Iowa, and presenting my view on the Iraq war, I openly explained my stance on key issues so that the voters would know precisely where I stood.

The media continually questioned me on major policy ideas, and it's time we hold Trump to the same standards.

For weeks on end, our TV sets and newspaper/blog headlines have been inundated with Trump's pitiful calls for a birth certificate. But instead of demanding real answers to real problems like the budget crisis, jobs, foreign policy or anything for that matter, we have instead played right into Trump's game of celebrity agitation. All we have been hearing is ridiculous attacks against Obama, attempts to delegitimize his authority and fear-mongering that is rooted in nothing more than open bigotry against the first African-American president. And sadly, Trump is not alone.

This past Easter Sunday, I joined an interfaith roundtable discussion on ABC's This Week hosted by Christiane Amanpour. But prior to our thought-provoking dialogue, another segment featured the Rev. Franklin Graham who took it upon himself to not only judge another man's faith, but also reinforce inaccurate vitriol and slander against our commander-in-chief. By implying that Obama may have another 'definition' of Christianity and that he 'has some issues to deal with here' (in regards to his birth certificate), Graham not only continued to fuel the flames of 'otherness,' but at its very core, his statements went against all the fundamentals of Christianity itself. The Bible clearly states: 'Judge thee not.' As a minister myself, I was deeply offended that Graham would even attempt to suggest that the president was lying about his religion, or had a different 'definition' of it.

During the 2008 campaign, the climate of our political and social discourse was at an all-time low as many of these same unwarranted allegations against Obama first surfaced. They claimed he wasn't a citizen, wasn't born here, wasn't a Christian and wasn't somehow American or patriotic enough. Playing on people's ignorance and fears of a potential Black president, many opportunists attempted to rise to power themselves. Instead of presenting solutions to the compounding dilemmas of today, individuals like Graham and Trump think they can fool the American people with the politics of diversion and disruption yet again. But they should know that the citizens of this country are ready for honesty and solutions, not political pandering.

Unless Trump is prepared to answer the tough questions, he needs to step aside, for the people have grown far too weary of his antics, just as they grew weary of the same in '08. And perhaps everyone should keep in mind that the voters let their voices be heard at the ballot box before and will continue doing so in all upcoming elections -- and that's a message all politicians and those with a bully pulpit should take to heart.